Cesspool/Septic System

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    • #278938
      Avatar photogypsy

        How often should a cesspool/Septic System be pumped out or cleaned out? I have heard so many different numbers and I don’t know which one to go by. Also how much should it cost? We live on Long Island, New York. Thanks for your help.

      • #299639
        Avatar photoJohn Aldrich1

          Christina, there is a difference in configuration, and design in a cesspool, a septic system, and a septic tank. A cesspool is a device into which the raw sewage flows. The organic material in the sewage is digested by anaerobic bacteria in the cesspool. The indigestible material in the sewage settles to the bottom, or floats on the surface if it is less heavy than the water. The water is leached into the soil surrounding the cesspool through holes in the sidewalls, or into the soil at the bottom of the floorless structure. Cesspools normally do not include a separate leach field.

          A septic system usually contains a septic tank (primary treatment tank), and a separate soil absorption system, or other means of dispersal of the primary treated sewage.

          A septic tank is much like a cesspool in sewage treatment function, but the settled effluent leaves the tank through a pipe, and is dispersed in a separate leach field.

          The indigestible solids (septic tank sludge) should be removed from cesspools, and septic tanks on a regular basis. Most on-site sewage treatment system regulatory agencies require sludge removal every 3 to 5 years if the systems are used on a daily basis. Sludge accumulation reduces the hydraulic detention time in the tank, and therefor, reduces the time for the microbes to digest the organic material in the sewage. When this occurs, the undigested sewage flows out of the septic tank and is applied to the leach field causing organic overloading. This leads to leach field failure.

          The cost of sludge removal varies from location to location, but in Colorado the pumping fee is about $200 for pumping a 1000 gallon septic tank, or about 20 cents a gallon. There is an additional charge if the septic tank pumper must excavate the soil to gain access to the tank. I imagine that the costs are substantially higher on Long Island. JWA

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